For Bucs, numbers don't lie

| Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006

CHICAGO - Jason Bay had never heard of the statistical category called "runs created," so he had no way of knowing that his total of 90 paced the Pirates.

"That's great ... if it's even a stat people put stock into," Bay said of the number that is an estimated total for runs a batter has contributed to his team over the course of a season.

"I know that creating runs is something a lot of teams look into, but I didn't know it was an official statistic."

It is according to STATS, Inc., which arrives at the estimated total by multiplying on-base percentage and total bases.

Bay's 90 runs created edged Freddy Sanchez's 89 through Monday.

Not surprisingly, those two players ranked first and second on the club in RBI with 94 and 73, respectively.

Even less surprising, according to hitting coach Jeff Manto, was that Bay and Sanchez topped the Pirates' charts in terms of runs -- Bay with 87, Sanchez at 77.

Far from surprising was Manto's instantaneous response when asked if runs created signified anything.

"People with their numbers ... they are trying to get so particular," said Manto, whose club's batting average of .267 was sixth in the National League prior to last night.

"You can drive yourself crazy with these newer numbers."

Manto is admittedly biased against the "nu skool" numbers that have come to dominate discussions among a culture of statistics starved fans.

For starters, Manto is no fan of on-base percentage, partly because he believes its emphasis on walks does not take into account that a base-on-balls is not always a desired or productive result.

While dismissing runs created, Manto offered his own statistical category: "runs produced" -- measured by adding runs and RBI, subtracting home runs from that total and dividing that number by games played.

"It's as important as on-base percentage," Manto said, "because it is a tremendous evaluator of who is a total offensive player."

Adhering to Manto's formula, it should also come as no surprise that Bay (1.12) and Sanchez (1.07) rank as the Pirates' top total offensive players.

"Those two guys excel at scoring runs and knocking them in," Manto said.

Bay's 57 extra-base hits and Sanchez's 54 were most among Pirates prior to last night.

"Somehow, some way, you have to get to second base," said Manto. "That's why, to me, on-base percentage doesn't mean a lot for an individual player ... I mean, it's great to get on base, but does the player get to second or beyond and score runs• If not, what good is him just getting on base?"

Whether judging by runs created or runs produced, there is little argument against the Pirates needing to do better beyond Bay and Sanchez in both categories.

Manto said, based on his formula, a "total offensive player should be at an average of one run produced per game."

Only Bay and Sanchez have accounted for such a total. Jose Castillo and Jose Bautista are tied for third at 0.78.

Bucs, by the numbers
The "runs created" statistic is an estimate the number of runs a batter has contributed to his team over the course of a season. It is determined by multiplying on-base percentage and total bases. Pirates' hitting coach Jeff Manto places little if any stock into such a statistic. He prefers to focus on "run produced," which measures how many runs a player can be expected to produce each game by adding runs and RBI, subtracting home runs and dividing that total by games played. "You want that number to be as close to 1.00 as possible," said Manto. A look at how the Pirates' top five batters in terms of "runs created" had measure up to Manto's "run produced," through Monday:
Runs created
Runs produced
Jason Bay
Freddy Sanchez
Jose Castillo
Ronny Paulino
Jose Bautista

Regarding runs created: Castillo rates third at 53 -- a total that trails second-place Sanchez by a whopping 36 estimated runs.

Seemingly, the bottom line to any discussion concerning the terms "Pirates" and "runs"-anything is that they need to score more of them. Pittsburgh's total of 606 runs through 138 games ranked 15th in the National League, behind only the Chicago Cubs' 584.

The last no-surprise: Those two clubs own the worst records in the Senior Circuit.

"The thing is, no matter what any statistic shows, we'll need to find a way to get more runs somehow if we are going to improve our record," Bay said.

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